Laser Dentistry has been around for a couple of decades. But only recently has it really shown how valuable it can be. For example, we had a patient come in to our office for a hygiene appointment. He had a front tooth that was half hidden by the gum. In other words, the gum came down too far onto the tooth. At the hygiene appointment, I asked him if he would like to have me reduce that gum so that the tooth looked like all the other teeth. I told him it would take 15 minutes. He then proceeded to tell me that 5 years ago in Chicago they told him it would require flapping the tissue, removing bone, sutures (stitches) to make the tooth look ‘normal.’ The Erbium/Yag laser, presently found in approximately 3 percent of all dental offices, was able to reduce the bone and soft tissue in a matter of minutes. During a hygiene appointment! Post-operative recovery was uneventful. Awesome!
The Erbium/Yag laser made by the medical laser company Hoya ConBio in California is one of the most amazing instruments we have available in dentistry today. Depending on the settings, the VersaWave Laser (as it is called) can remove an ulceration that is bothering a patient (lowest setting) to cutting the enamel of a tooth (highest setting). Many times these procedures can be done without anesthetic. The Erbium/Yag laser can remove smaller amounts of tissue than the conventional ‘drill’ without the sound associated with the drill. The laser does not touch the tooth or gum, it is the light energy that does all the work. Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it?
We also have a Diode Laser. We have had the diode laser for about seven years, but recently we upgraded the diode to the newest available. This diode laser is smaller than the Sonicare toothbrush that I use to brush my own teeth! I can’t get over it. And what does a diode laser do? Soft tissue. It can ‘clean’ a deep pocket in periodontal disease, reducing or eliminating the harmful bacteria that cause the problem. It can also remove the inflamed tissue surrounding the deep pocket so that the gum heals nicely. The best part – no discomfort. We use this laser routinely. The diode laser has been a great asset in, what we call, soft tissue management. The diode laser can be set to such low power settings that it is not felt at all by the patient.
The 21st Century has begun with many great technologies available to the dentist and the dental team. We even have a laser that can help us to diagnose whether there is a cavity in the tooth (the Kavo Diagnodent). This instrument detects if there is a lack of density within the tooth (hence, a cavity). Sometimes deciding if there is a cavity can be very subjective, especially if it is incipient (just beginning). The Diagnodent Laser Cavity Detection Device, can give us a read out (numerical) that can give us a non-subjective, quantifiable number that can be reproduced. From the numbers that are generated, we can determine whether to treat that incipient cavity. How great is that?
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